Billy Reid Comes to Town


“I design things I want to wear, and that fit into my life. I am a traditionalist at heart. I start with classic American clothing, and take it in a modern direction. I think through every button, every thread, every stitch. My clothes are made with integrity so you look and feel your best, no matter when and where you wear it. My name is on everything we make, and I take pride in that.”

The equation seems simple enough. Southern sensibility and charm plus classic American clothes twisted with a modern sensibility. That’s the Billy Reid formula that has led to extraordinary success.

With a close connection with the state (headquarters for the company are in Florence), his national and international reputation and success has brought very positive attention to Alabama.

With his new store in Pepper Place, that spotlight on the state and region should only grow brighter. The store opened in October off the main Pepper Place parking area.

 

“We have always had a strong presence in the South, especially in Alabama since our flagship store and HQ is based in Florence,” Reid says. “The decision to open a store in Birmingham has been long overdue. The community support we have received has been heartwarming and so helpful.  We’ve received a wonderful response from our customers and the Pepper Place team has been terrific to work with throughout this process. We feel like we can be a part of something super special happening in downtown Birmingham.”

Billy Reid grew up in Amite, Louisiana where his mother owned a women’s boutique in his grandmother’s former home. That early influence would eventually move Reid to study at The Art Institute of Dallas and begin a four-year career with Saks Fifth Avenue. Later, he spent six years with Reebok in Los Angeles, Boston and New York, developing product for the first collections of Australian golfer Greg Norman and traveling extensively. He later did freelance design for Fruit of the Loom, Neiman Marcus, and J. C. Penney.

Reid launched his men’s collection, William Reid, in March of 1998; a women’s collection came a few seasons later. In June 2001, he won the coveted CFDA award for Best New Menswear Designer.  Unfortunately, the dismal economic conditions in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks that year forced him to close and move his family to Florence, Alabama, (his wife’s hometown) to put his life back together.

In 2004, friends approached Reid with the idea for a unique retail business concept built around his aesthetic and a fully realized men’s collection, both called Billy Reid. The first Billy Reid shops opened in Dallas, Houston and Florence, where the store was located in an old home with Reid’s design studio upstairs. Word of the new company spread and the business grew, building momentum.

In 2010, Reid was named GQ/CFDA’s Best New Menswear Designer and won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award. Two years later, he was named the CFDA’s 2012 Menswear Designer of the Year. Reid has collaborated with brands including Levi’s, J. Crew, Coach, Neiman Marcus and K-Swiss. Reid cites Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis as influential American designers, and has named Bill Robinson as “one of his biggest influences.”

“Billy Reid is the guy who all the guys want to be like,” says Michael Williams, of the influential fashion blog, A Continuous Lean, as quoted in Barron’s. “He is so laid-back, with that Southern charm. And he makes you look good without looking like you worked at it too hard, something guys are programmed to be afraid of. It’s an effortless cool.”

Celebrity clients include Ethan Hawke, Idris Elba, and Josh Brolin. Daniel Craig was so smitten with his classic Bond peacoat, he wore it in the film Skyfall. That triggered a yearlong back order.

Reid’s new 2,600 square-foot-store in Birmingham’s Pepper Place features soaring ceilings and will soon have a dedicated restaurant as part of the concept. This spot will figure into many of the upcoming in-store events planned for the rest of the year, including Reid’s newly created “Supper Series,” concept, which are meals prepared by James Beard award-winning chefs for Reid’s VIP customers and friends. This unique, intimate gathering celebrates the brand’s passion for craftsmanship, while enjoying great food and conversation. Additionally, with all of Reid’s other retail locations, the Birmingham space will feature art hand-picked by the designer and nods to Billy’s love for music.

“Our new Pepper Place retail concept is a lifestyle extension of the Billy Reid brand, bringing the soul and flavor of the South to life through fashion, music, food and art, much like our annual Shindig festival,” Reid said. “I’ve had my eye on Birmingham for a while and am proud to put roots down in Pepper Place. The space itself radiates the gritty, industrial history of the city and the district already houses some of the most well-respected creative minds in the region, which will only strengthen our concept.”

Reid has fine-tuned the concepts and the style of his retail businesses. “We will continue to emphasize our value for craft and modern well-made American clothing. We also plan to broaden our collaborative efforts this year to expand brand awareness and continue to create hospitality centric environments and unique experiences for our customers.

“In each of our stores, we want to make it feel like the client is entering our home. Growing up in Amite, Louisiana where my mother owned a women’s boutique, most of the customers would come and chat with her more than buy clothes. I wanted to bring that same hospitality into my stores. We want people to come in, hang out, have a drink and see our clothes. You have to give customers a reason to shop in store and support your efforts. We believe that creating a point of difference and a more personal interaction can build loyalty and a solid client base. Nurturing small businesses and brands that have distinct and exciting points of view usually acts as magnet attracting more customers, buzz and so on. I think it’s best to start somewhere, support it and build a community,” Reid says.

Awards

2001 CFDA Best New Menswear Designer (as William Reid)

2009 New York Magazine Best Men’s Store in New York

2010 GQ/CFDA Best New Menswear Designer in America Award

2010 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Prize

2012 CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year

2017 Observer American Menswear Power List #1

 

 

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